Two agricultural companies in Taranaki have been taken to task over ineffective workplace traffic safety, after their worker was knocked unconscious by a moving vehicle.
In August 2020 the worker was hit from behind and collected by the bucket of a telehandler, an all-terrain vehicle used for lifting loads. The 61-year-old victim was hospitalised with bleeding in the skull. He also suffered loss of smell and taste, along with light sensitivity, and was unable to work for nine months.
Westown Haulage Limited and Westown Agriculture Limited were jointly sentenced today in the New Plymouth District Court. Another entity has pleaded not guilty and is still before the court.
A WorkSafe investigation found a lack of oversight for traffic was the chief health and safety failing.
“Traffic management was a well-known challenge to the Westown businesses, but neither took any steps to address it. From time to time, Westown gave verbal directions to workers about traffic movement onsite, including to “use common sense”. Relying on verbal directions in this way was completely inadequate,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Paul West.
“One-way systems, clear separation between vehicles and pedestrians, designated crossing points, and speed bumps or signage are among the measures that could have made a difference here. All businesses whose work requires traffic management should take notice,” says Paul West.
- Westown Haulage Limited and Westown Agriculture Limited were sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court on 8 November 2022.
- A fine of $270,000 was imposed, and reparations of $50,000 were ordered
- Westown Haulage Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while workers were at work in the business or undertaking, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed workers to a risk of death or serious injury from the interaction between workers and mobile plant at the site.
- Westown Agriculture Limited was charged under sections 37(1), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- being a PCBU who manages or controls a workplace, having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the workplace and anything arising from the workplace was without risks to the health and safety of any person, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed any individual to a risk of death or serious injury.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million